Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron cut short a trip to Africa to defend himself from a scandal that has battered Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, forced British police chiefs to resign and raised doubts about the prime minister’s judgment.
Cameron will be in Nigeria during a showdown in a parliamentary committee room today when Murdoch himself, along with his son James and former top executive Rebekah Brooks, will face questions from lawmakers on what they knew when of payments by tabloid journalists to officers in the Metropolitan Police and of the hacking of voicemails of possibly thousands of people.
News on July 4 that British police were investigating whether journalists in 2002 had hacked voicemail for a murdered teenager has reignited a 5-year-old scandal which once had seemed limited to spying on the rich, famous and powerful. Ten journalists have been arrested and released on bail.
The arrest on Sunday of the 43-year-old Brooks, a personal friend of Cameron and former editor of the News of the World, and the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Stephenson, left Cameron looking exposed in defending his own conduct in an affair that has triggered public outrage at cozy relations among the elites of the press, politics and police.
Sean Hoare, a former journalist who told the New York Times that phone hacking at News of the World was more extensive than the paper had acknowledged at the time, has been found dead.
Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.